Science & Tech

Astronomer leaves message for life on Mars shortly before his death

Astronomer leaves message for life on Mars shortly before his death
Carl Sagan explains how the Ancient Greeks knew the Earth was round
Carl Sagan - Cosmo

Shortly before his death, famed astronomer Carl Sagan recorded a message for the first humans on Mars.

Sagan, who died from pneumonia in December 1996, was the co-founder of The Planetary Society and strongly believed the Red Planet should be explored for signs of life.

Ahead of his death, Sagan made a recording for the first people on Mars.

The recording was sent to Mars and arrived on May 25 2008 via NASA's Phoenix lander. The mini DVD is still on Mars in hope that it will stay there for thousands of years.

In the clip, he introduces himself and his work based in Ithaca at the time.

"Maybe you can hear, in the background, a 200-foot [60-metre] waterfall, right nearby, which is probably - I would guess - a rarity on Mars, even in times of high technology," Sagan says.

"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century, particularly with respect to Mars," he continues.

"The scientists make a finding, it inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited and inspired to become scientists to find out more about Mars, which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science."

Getty Images

Sagan then says that he is unaware of "why you're on Mars," before citing various theories.

"Maybe you're there because we've recognised we have to carefully move small asteroids around to avert the possibility of one impacting the Earth with catastrophic consequences, and, while we're up in near-Earth space, it's only a hop, skip, and a jump to Mars," he suggests.

Carl Sagan message to

He then details another reason that it could be because "we recognise that if there are human communities on many worlds, the chances of us being rendered extinct by some catastrophe on one world is much less."

"Or maybe we're on Mars because of the magnificent science that can be done there, the gates of the wonder world are opening in our time," he theorises, adding: "Or maybe we're on Mars because we have to be, because there's a deep nomadic impulse built into us by the evolutionary process.

"We come after all, from hunter-gatherers, and for 99.9 percent of our tenure on Earth, we've been wanderers. And the next place to wander to is Mars. But whatever the reason you're on Mars is, I'm glad you're there. And I wish I was with you."

H/T IFLScience

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